All posts by Alfonso Colasuonno

Embracing the Struggle Podcast #1: Shawn Hudson

Hey everyone. I’ve decided to start a new podcast called “Embracing the Struggle.” The podcast is centered around long-form conversations with emerging authors (and others in the creative and entrepreneurial spheres). In these talks, my guests share their experiences as up-and-coming talents and offer tips for others traversing similar paths.

My first guest was Shawn Hudson, author of the novel Just Us, a work of urban fiction. Shawn and I chatted about his writing process, work-life balance, the political nature of all art, and more.

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You can listen to my conversation with Shawn by clicking play below.

Word of mouth goes a long way. Consider helping emerging authors like Shawn out by sharing this post on your Facebook or Twitter.

If you want to pick up an eBook of Just Us, click here. If you’d prefer a physical copy, click here.

Follow Shawn at @RBGLiterature.

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Feedback on Shawn Hudson’s poetry. 

Wanted: Your Fiction and Poetry Submissions

I caught the mentoring bug back in 2013. Back then, I was working in Monroe College’s English department. A vacancy had sprung up in the faculty sponsorship of the campus Poetry Club. I thought what the hell, let’s see what these kids have to offer.

Some of the poets, eh, they didn’t do much for me; however, I was blown away by some of talent in the Poetry Club. Most notably, by my friend Shawn Hudson, whose grim poetry detailing life on the streets in the Bronx really appealed to my gritty and edgy sensibilities.

Talent can come from anywhere. Sure, many of the “name brand” authors deserve their reputation. No one is questioning that they’re good. But as both a writer and a businessman, I’ve made a career out of finding diamonds in the rough.

Are you a diamond?

Sending Your Submissions

Here’s the deal. My blog posts can only help writers in the abstract; however, every situation is distinct. That’s one of the reasons why I’m opening The Literary Game to submissions. I want to help writers directly.

Of course, there’s a condition. You have to be brave. I’ve been a publisher and editor at literary magazines for six years. Form rejections are polite. That politeness doesn’t help authors. An author who receives a form rejection often has no idea why their work was rejected.

I’m doing things differently.

Every author who sends me their work agrees to the fact that they will receive an honest critique. If your work is derivative, full of spelling and grammatical errors, and awash with missed opportunities, I’ll tell you just that.

It comes down to a question: Do I want politeness or do I want the truth?

If you want politeness, please go elsewhere. If you want the truth, I would love to check out your writing.

Submissions Guidelines

I’ll try to keep this simple.

Fiction: I’m accepting both short fiction and novel excerpts. Samples exceeding 3,000 words will be deleted unread. All writing should be pasted in the body of an email.

Poetry: Send up to three poems in the body of an email.

Cover Letters: If you truly like this blog, please go ahead and mention it. If you’re just looking for free feedback or a chance at a publishing credit, that’s cool. No need to BS by including a cover letter.

Genre: All genres accepted.

Email: theliterarygame at gmail dot com

The Fun Part

Works of exceptional quality will be published on the blog, but so will works in dire need of improvement.

My goal here isn’t to embarrass anyone, but rather to be honest about what needs major improvement. On that note, for the truly brave among the authors whose works are declined, there’s an option to have your writing featured on the site anyway with my feedback. This is a direct way to educate readers on how to avoid certain traps. Not cool with that? No worries. I’ll only publish rejected submissions with your consent.

What Are You Waiting For?

Email your submission to me today at theliterarygame dot gmail dot com and/or share this post with your literary-minded friends.

In success,
Alfonso

 

 

Is It Possible To Write Anything Worthwhile When You’re Flat Broke?

The short answer? Of course.

Can you write something that speaks to people’s souls when you’re on the dole and living on ramen from the food bank?

Absolutely.

But why in the hell would you want to do that?

There is no glory in poverty. The starving artist isn’t noble, he’s a joke. And his life is in shambles.

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Is that the kind of life that you want for yourself?

Is that the kind of life that you believe you need to live if you want to make high art?

Sorry. I call BS.

J. K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens. I could go on. They were poor. They wrote novels that were not only compelling works, but which attracted large readerships.

But they didn’t write so well and achieve the success they did because they were poor. They achieved what they achieved because they blended innate talent with tremendous dedication.

Poverty doesn’t make a writer.

For all but the most iron-willed of writers in that condition, poverty breaks them.

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What Should I Do If I’m Struggling Financially?

There are some people who say you should just give up on your writing and get a 9 to 5.

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I have some family members and friends who feel that way.

They feel this way despite the fact that I have published more than 70 poems and short stories.

They feel this way despite the fact that I have a contract with a publisher for one of my coauthored books.

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They feel this way despite the fact that I have a partnership on another coauthored book with someone who has a major platform.

I don’t care how they feel.

You shouldn’t care how the people in your life feel about your literary ambitions.

Although, if your life is falling apart, you do need to address that. Immediately.

For me, as I continue to pursue my writing, I earn money through other pursuits because writing does not pay the bills. Yet.

I write and edit material for Goldleaf, a company that specializes in guided notebooks and elegant print design for cannabis patients, growers, and enthusiasts.

I also provide customized resumes and cover letters for job applicants through my company, MyCareerHacker.com.

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Fortunately, between these two responsibilities, I’m able to pay the bills. In my spare time, I write (and move the process forward on these two forthcoming books).

Both of my responsibilities are writing-focused.

Neither job requires creative writing skill, but every day my writing ability continues to improve as a result of this writing-related work.

The best thing is that I can perform my duties from home with both of these positions.

I found an incredible resource for other writers so that they too can write from home and make money. This is a great option for writers who are in dire financial straits and also for writers who may have a job, but either dislike it or would prefer a change to a writing-related role.

The resource is called Writing Jobs Online

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I can’t recommend this website strongly enough. No matter what’s going on in your life, now you have no excuse not to pursue your writing. You can pay your writing-induced bills while developing your writing-related skills. 

Could you be the next J. K. Rowling?

Maybe. Talent matters. Hard work matters.

But there are no guarantees.

Do you really want to suffer for your art?

Do you really think suffering makes your writing better?

Do you really think suffering makes you write more?

I doubt it, but hey, it’s your life.

Now if you want to make a change, start solving your problems, earn some money, and become a better writer, again, give Writing Jobs Online a try.

After all, the only thing you have to lose is your ramen.

Did you find this post useful? Then please consider helping other writers by sharing this post on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Thank you!

How to Sell Copies of Your Book: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Thirty copies sold in the first few months. Add a few more if you have a wider social circle.

A one dollar royalty check from KDP.

Scary, right? You spent months – maybe years – writing your book, but that’s what you know in your heart of hearts you have on the horizon after you self-publish.

Why bother? Am I right?

Why bother indeed, unless you know how to market and sell copies of your book.

The strategy I want to share with you can work for almost any type of book. I can’t guarantee that you’ll sell millions of copies, but I can guarantee that you’ll sell more copies trying this than asking your friends to write five star book reviews.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it!

  1. Determine your niches.

Simply put, who would be interested in your book?

When I begin reaching out to promote The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn, I will be targeting three communities in earnest: the New Age spirituality community; the esoteric mysteries community; and the folklore/mythology community. That doesn’t mean other people won’t be interested in the book that my partner and I co-wrote, it just means that we’re focusing our attention on reaching out to the people most likely to be interested in our book.

2. Research online influencers in your niche.

You want to find about two hundred sources (YouTubers, podcasters, bloggers) who are influencers (at least 10k subscribers as measured by YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter followers) within your niche.

With the YouTubers and podcasters, make sure that they do interviews on their channels/podcasts.

Write down their URL and contact information on an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your sources.

3. Research Their Content

Spend some time watching at least one full video or podcast interview of a guest. Take notes on the format. Are things kept light? What’s the vibe? Are there certain segments?

The point is to make sure that when you pitch the source you cannot be perceived as an opportunist. You will absolutely NOT get booked if you don’t do your homework and make sure that your book would provide genuine value to their fanbase.

 4. Pitch, Pitch, Pitch

Form letters are useless. Write from the heart. Make a clear value proposition as to how interviewing you about your book would benefit the content creator and their audience. No one cares about how this would benefit you. If you come from a place of wanting to help people, influencers will be far more inclined to help you.

Some Statistics

If you are able to land interviews (or guest posts/coverage) from 40 of the 200 sources you pitch and if they have an average of 20k subscribers, your reach will be 800,000 people who are within your book’s target market.

If even 2% of these people buy your book, that’s 16,000 copies sold.

Self-published Amazon bestsellers often sell only around 4,000 copies.

Now, with a viral effect from your hustle, who knows what can happen?

As long as your book falls within a niche, you can execute this plan.

You can absolutely do this by yourself and achieve great results, but just in case you want a little help along the way, shoot me an email. I’m in the process of helping one author on his marketing campaign, but I have enough availability to work with one more author so reach out ASAP before my schedule is booked.

I’m getting after my literary dreams. I hope you do likewise, friends!

-Alfonso

It’s Been An Interesting Year

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Hey friends. It’s been way too long! Time to give this another shot.

Let me catch you all up to speed because this has been an incredible year.

That beautiful cover at the top of this post is for my first book, The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn. 

My co-writer Vakasha Brenman and I were able to reach a deal with O-Books, the UK’s leading publisher of spiritually-oriented works. Copies are on the way in early 2020.

Now wait, I get what you’re thinking if you’ve read any of my writing or seen my last informational post: this guy wrote a book about unicorns?

Actually, I co-wrote it, but yes I did.

And yes, a lot of my writing has some serious edge to it, but I’ve seen some crazy times and I find the whole process of funneling that darkness into my poetry and short fiction (and sometimes into this blog) to be cathartic.

But unicorns are also fuckin’ rad. Seriously.

On a different note, I’ve been working on a new ghostwritten novel over the last six months. I would love to share more details about the work, but unfortunately the terms of the contract limit my ability to disclose my involvement.

For this super secret new ghostwritten novel, I will be orchestrating a marketing campaign to generate press. We have big plans for the novel and I refuse to let my partner down.

The good thing? This plan to generate buzz can work for (almost) any book, as long as there’s at least one natural niche that would be drawn to it. That’s why I’ve started to offer my services as a guerrilla book marketer. You should check it out if you have a book that hasn’t been getting much attention or want to launch your book with a bang.

From day one, my goal for this blog was to empower writers.

I hate the fact that talented writers have to have day jobs.

I hate the fact that talented writers can’t write because they’re stressed about the bills.

I can’t promise you’ll blow up and sell five million copies (that’s not likely to happen, but who knows?), but if you can reach a large audience and generate a nice chunk of side income or if things go well, make a career of it, then I’ve done my job.

But it’s also about the fun. Never forget that. I haven’t.

I launched a new portfolio called Writerly Nomad. And yes, unlike Man vs. Goals, there’s actually more than one post there. This is my new space to connect my writing directly to readers. I’ve published in competitive literary magazines. Hell, I even ran one. They serve their place, but for me, the fun of it is just writing and having people dig what you wrote. Everything else is just the theatrics of the scene and I’m over that.

Well, this has been a whirlwind of a post. I hope you’ve all been well and let’s keep getting after it together!

Cheers,
Alfonso

New Blog – Man vs. Goals

The Bad News

First, the bad news.

It’s always better to get that out of the way, right?

As you probably guessed, The Literary Game is on an indefinite hiatus.

I appreciate all my readers for their support. Seriously, you’re awesome.

However, right now, I don’t feel particularly called to dispensing writing advice.

If you need some, ask away. If I can help, I’ll help.

The Good News

My itch for blogging is still around.

I’ve started a new blog, Man vs. Goals, that details the continuing story of the good, bad, and ugly sides of sacrificing (almost) everything to chase my dreams as a writer, actor, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

If you’re on a similarly unconventional path, you might like my new blog.

If you’ve ever thought about going for a larger-than-life goal, you might like my new blog.

I promise to give a “from the trenches” perspective of this kind of life.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

All love,
Alfonso

 

 

Patience Sucks. Patience Works.

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One year.

I had to wait one fucking year between my first conversation with a client and starting the project.

Did it suck?

Are you deef? Of course it sucked.

But oh my God was it worth it.

My client paid five figures. There are writers with book deals with presses whose advances aren’t even close to that. I received that from a dude.

My client is awesome. Not only is he a badass pilot, but he gave me everything I needed to successfully write what he wanted, without micromanaging my ass along the way. He knew I was a professional and treated like me a professional, not like his bitch.

My client’s project is awesome. A kinetic screenplay set in the world of counterterrorism and espionage. Uhh, fuck yeah.

Waiting a year, yeah, not fun.

But you know what, if you’re not willing to pay some dues, you’ll never break into the literary game.

Sorry.

You’re just not that important yet. If you act like a diva, you’re going to lose any opportunities that may come up.

I’m not saying to just hold fast and wait. You’re not passive (and if you are, knock that shit off), but sometimes things don’t go on your schedule, they go on the gatekeeper’s.

You damn well can try to speed them up, but never, ever, ever, EVER get pissy about it.

Unless you want to be a nobody forever. If that’s what you want, have fun.

The same situation’s come up again for me.

Through a whole bunch of weird and complex life events, I was connected to a New York Times bestselling author.

He read a screenplay I wrote.

He met with me.

And he told me, “Normally I tell people it’s a great accomplishment that you finished a script. Most people never complete one. But here’s what you should do: put it in a drawer, close the drawer, and never open the drawer ever again.”

Do you know how many assholes are constantly bothering a successful writer for a favor, or to front something?

First off, I know I have the luck of the devil himself to even get a read from this guy.

Second, when you have someone who sold over a million copies of their book telling you you’re good, it feels pretty fucking sweet.

Third, when the guy says he’ll connect you to an agent, and then chews you out for why in your early 30s you’re not already writing for Hollywood, then that’s almost surreal.

But then a year later, you’re still occasionally exchanging emails, trying to push him on to connect you.

It’s easy to be a loser and bitch and moan. Most writers would do that in a situation like that. That’s why most writers are wasting their time and should give it up.

But not you, right? You can see this for what it is, a test.

And you’ll pass it because you won’t give up.

If you’re an outsider, you need a leg up to break into the literary game.

Or the screenwriting game.

Or anything big.

If you want to blow up, or change the world, or get rich, or do something other than work as a barista, you damn well need powerful allies.

And your powerful allies are, by nature, more powerful than you.

They can make your career.

Or, if you alienate them, they can keep you doomed to obscurity.

What do you think’s the better way?

When you find your opportunities and your allies, make it happen.

And if you can’t make it happen quickly, then hang on for a long ride.